[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 2-Jul-2013
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Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

July 2013 story tips

ENERGY Big voltage, little package . . .

Oak Ridge National Laboratory's new Stinger Energizer provides voltages exceeding 100 kilovolts in a compact highly efficient, portable package, making it ideal for laser systems, X-ray units, particle accelerators, electrostatic purifiers, copy machines, bug zappers and many other products. Conventional high-voltage power supplies consume significantly more power, are heavier and at least 10 times larger. The Stinger, developed by a team led by Bruce Warmack, operates by transforming a low direct current voltage of 3.3 volts to 24 volts to a high-frequency alternating current voltage up to 12 kilovolts. A series of high-voltage diodes and capacitors are specially arranged in a stack that is just two inches in length to provide 120 kilovolts. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

METALLURGY -- Graphite foam expansion . . .

By mixing graphitic particles with ductile metal powders, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have produced an entirely new family of matrix composites that broaden the use of graphite foam. These novel metals, collectively called Vari-k-Graphmet, possess the qualities of each individual component, and help to create a highly customizable product that can tailor graphite foam to a wide variety of applications, including automobile exhaust systems, brakes, LED lighting, refrigeration, power converters, heat sinks and heat exchangers. This is because the combination of highly conductive graphite foam and titanium produces a high-strength, lightweight, titanium alloy that has high thermal conductivity. [Written by Jennifer Brouner, (865) 241-9515; brounerjm@ornl.gov] [Contact: Ron Walli, 865-576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

ENERGY CoNNECT promotes savings . . .

Energy consumers intent on seeing lower bills could see that happen with Citizen Engagement for Energy Efficient Communities, a software developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. CoNNECT, a community-based computational framework, enables consumers to benchmark their consumption against that of their peers. "CoNNECT builds on the premise that energy consumers need to go beyond one-time improvements that are often not monitored to increase the likelihood of achieving energy savings," said Budhu Bhaduri, who led the development team. By tracking energy usage data, CoNNECT provides an improved energy feedback mechanism that informs households in more detail about their consumption pattern so homeowners can achieve better awareness and control. CoNNECT is available for licensing with a deadline of Aug. 16. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

MATERIALS -- Safer batteries . . .

Lithium batteries could become less expensive and safer using materials developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers and Porous Power Technologies LLC. The replacement of polymer separators with lower-cost ceramics and mineral fillers can also improve a battery's thermomechanical properties, making it less likely to overheat or ignite because of shorting. The technology provides enhanced durability, increased reliability and a 7 to 8 percent increase in the battery's long-term cycling performance, according to David Wood III. This breakthrough membrane technology, called SYMMETRIX HPX-F separator, could affect electric vehicles, grid storage applications, portable electronic applications, filters, barrier fabrics, transdermal drug delivery and toxic chemical absorption. [Written by Jennifer Brouner, (865) 241-9515; brounerjm@ornl.gov] [Contact: Ron Walli, 865-576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

CLIMATE -- Blogging from the Arctic . . .

Scientists of the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments are blogging from the Arctic this summer. Follow their adventures at http://ngee-arctic.blogspot.com/. Participants share troubles and triumphs from the field in entries with headings like "Flying Wild Alaska" and "Hitting the Tundra." "The blog shares the challenge of sampling, testing, and modeling an ecosystem containing vast stores of trapped carbon that, as permafrost warms, may be released and spur further warming," said project director Stan Wullschleger of the Climate Change Science Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865-241-4630; levyd@ornl.gov]


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